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Clin Pharmacol Ther. 2012 Feb;91(2):172-80. doi: 10.1038/clpt.2011.317. Epub 2011 Nov 30.

The effects of extended pre-quit varenicline treatment on smoking behavior and short-term abstinence: a randomized clinical trial.

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Department of Psychology, State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York, USA.


Preclinical research and learning theory suggest that a longer duration of varenicline treatment prior to the target quit date (TQD) would reduce smoking rates before cessation and improve abstinence outcomes. A double-blind randomized controlled trial tested this hypothesis in 60 smokers randomized to either an Extended run-in group (4 weeks of pre-TQD varenicline) or a Standard run-in group (3 weeks of placebo, 1 week of pre-TQD varenicline); all the participants received 11 weeks of post-TQD varenicline and brief counseling. During the pre-quit run-in, the reduction in smoking rates was greater in the Extended run-in group than in the Standard run-in group (42% vs. 24%, P < 0.01), and this effect was greater in women than in men (57% vs. 26%, P = 0.001). The rate of continuous abstinence during the final 4 weeks of treatment was higher among women in the Extended group compared to women in the Standard run-in group (67% vs. 35%). Although these data suggest that extension of varenicline treatment reduces smoking during the pre-quit period and may further enhance cessation rates, confirmatory evidence is needed from phase III clinical trials.

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